Spe­cial Places for spe­cial wildlife

Canal Boat - - News -

A NEW PROJECT has been launched to im­prove vul­ner­a­ble wildlife habi­tats around the coun­try’s canals.

The Mak­ing Spe­cial Places for Na­ture project spans reservoirs and canals in Le­ices­ter­shire, Not­ting­hamshire, Greater Manch­ester, Shrop­shire, Worces­ter­shire, Stafford­shire, Berk­shire and mid-Wales. It will ben­e­fit wa­ter shrews, voles, ot­ters, bats, drag­on­flies and other rare fauna and flora.

The Canal & River Trust, which cares for 63 Sites of Spe­cial Sci­en­tific In­ter­est, is ap­peal­ing to vol­un­teers to join in this mam­moth task and hopes to en­cour­age many res­i­dents, par­tic­u­larly the young, to roll up their sleeves and get in­volved in im­prov­ing their own lo­cal na­ture re­serve.

Made pos­si­ble thanks to a £350,000 award from play­ers of the Peo­ple’s Postcode Lot­tery, the project will in­volve a wide range of habi­tat pro­tec­tion work in­clud­ing bank restora­tion, shade re­moval and im­prove­ments in wa­ter qual­ity.

The project will also as­sess the health and pop­u­la­tions of var­i­ous rare species in­clud­ing the shy wa­ter shrew, which was last sub­ject to a na­tional sur­vey more than a decade ago.

“The Eurasian wa­ter shrew and white-clawed cray­fish are among a wide range of in­dige­nous species which need an ex­tra help­ing hand,” said Canal & River Trust ecol­o­gist Stu­art Moodie. “Their nat­u­ral habi­tats are threat­ened by run-off from agri­cul­tural fer­tilis­ers and in­va­sive plants and an­i­mals.

“In­creas­ing the growth of aquatic plants helps en­cour­age in­sects and in­ver­te­brates which in turn pro­motes healthy pop­u­la­tions of fish and small mam­mals. Bio­di­ver­sity is the key to a flour­ish­ing wa­ter­way.

“Get­ting lo­cal peo­ple in­volved in man­ag­ing these re­serves is a key pri­or­ity. We would ap­peal to any­one who wants to get in touch with na­ture and play an im­por­tant role in con­serv­ing their lo­cal area to con­tact us. This is a gen­uine chance to make a real dif­fer­ence.” For more in­for­ma­tion go to canal­rivertrust.org.uk or ring 0303 040 4040.

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